When Michelle and her husband Chris were married at 19, they already knew that adoption was in the cards for them. By the time their first child was placed in their care, they already had a 3-year-old daughter and a newborn on their hands, but that didn’t slow them down. Skyler was the first child the Dahlmans experienced as foster parents when he came to them at just 2 days old.
From there, the Dahlmans knew that they were going to parent many more children throughout their lives. Their faith had shown them that there was a greater plan for their lives and that taking care of children who need them was part of their calling. When she looks back, Michelle can remember telling Chris that she wanted two children and he jokingly threw out the number nine. Now, with a family of fourteen running around, they couldn’t have imagined it any other way.
Each member of the Dahlman family is unique and among their twelve children, nine of them have been adopted from foster care. In addition to their big heart for foster care, the Dahlmans also have a heart for sibling groups – in fact, several of their children are biological siblings.
When Michelle thinks about their own adoption journey, she reflects on what it means to be an adoptive parent. Specifically, understanding that you cannot truly prepare for what’s to come. “Something that stands out when we went through the initial classes was a questionnaire asking about what types of behavior you can handle. The truth is, no one can actually give you a list of what a child will or will not do,” says Michelle. Knowing this, Michelle and Chris have had to work through the things that come up with each of their children individually, keeping in mind that even biological children will have different behaviors as they grow, and you learn to help them through.
The Dahlmans now do a lot of work to encourage others to start the journey through foster and adoption. The most powerful thing people who are considering fostering or adoption should know, Michelle is quick to say, is that it is all about the kids. “Many people say that if the child had to leave them, they couldn’t let go, so they won’t consider fostering. I’d say, It’s not about you, you can’t enter into it thinking that way. It’s not always easy or fun, and you need to think about the well-being of the child,” says Michelle.
The Dahlmans’ family of fourteen is now complete. They adopted their youngest sons Tobias and Xzavier in June and decided to close their license. Their story truly comes full circle, as one of their youngest sons is the biological brother of their very first adoptive son, Skyler. These days you can find Michelle and Chris fixing up an old school bus, and preparing their family to travel the country and share with others about the joy and trials of foster care and adoption. Aivahlis, Talia, Anthony, Skyler, Izabella, Tiana, Christopher, Serenity, Noah, Avery, Tobias and Xzavier along with their parents are looking forward to helping other children find their forever homes.